From the February 2007 Idaho Observer:
President’s statement on "Kleptocracy"
President’s statement on "Kleptocracy"
It is so fascinating to juxtapose Thomas Jefferson against George W. Bush (see Jefferson essay below Bush’s "statement"). It is hard to imagine a more representative picture of where we were at the sunrise of our nation and what has become of us since than to place the words of these birthing and dying presidents side-by-side. If you have access to the Internet, Google "presidential documents" and you will find the transcripts—complete with screwed-up words and sentences—of just about every speech GW makes. While reviewing reams of this material to look for a quote I thought I heard on TV, this "statement" came up. The word "kleptocracy" caught my eye because we published "Kleptocracy—our government of thieves" by Hari Heath in the July, 2000 edition of The IO. The statement below IS NOT a satire; it is the official record of what the 43rd president of the United States stated as the official position of his administration regarding "kleptocracy."
WAIS Document Retrieval
[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]
From the 2006 Presidential Documents Online via GPO Access [frwais.access.gpo.gov]
Pages 1441 1454
Week Ending Friday, August 11, 2006
Statement on Kleptocracy
August 10, 2006
For too long, the culture of corruption has undercut development and good governance and bred criminality and mistrust around the world. High-level corruption by senior government officials, or kleptocracy, is a grave and corrosive abuse of power and represents the most invidious [sic] type of public corruption. It threatens our national interest and violates our values. It impedes our efforts to promote freedom and democracy, end poverty, and combat international crime and terrorism.
Kleptocracy is an obstacle to democratic progress, undermines faith in government institutions, and steals prosperity from the people. Promoting transparent, accountable governance is a critical component of our freedom agenda.
At this year’s G-8 meeting in St. Petersburg, my colleagues joined me in calling for strengthened international efforts to deny kleptocrats access to our financial systems and safe haven in our countries; stronger efforts to combat fraud, corruption, and misuse of public resources; and increased capacity internationally to prevent opportunities for high-level public corruption. Today I am announcing a new element in my administration’s plan to fight kleptocracy, the National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy, which sets forth a framework to deter, prevent, and address high-level public corruption. It identifies critical tools to detect and prosecute corrupt officials around the world, so that the promise of economic assistance and growth reaches the people.
Our objective is to defeat high-level public corruption in all its forms and to deny corrupt officials access to the international financial system as a means of defrauding their people and hiding their ill-gotten gains. Given the nature of our open, accessible international financial system, our success in fighting kleptocracy will depend upon the participation and accountability of our partner nations, the international financial community, and regional and multilateral development institutions. Together, we can confront kleptocracy and help create the conditions necessary for people everywhere to enjoy the full benefits of honest, just, and accountable governance.
Truth Seeking. . . Enlighten the People Generally. . .
By Thomas Jefferson
(as edited by Eric Petersen)
Be industrious in advancing yourself in knowledge, which with your good dispositions, will ensure the love of others, and your own happiness. A patient pursuit of facts, and cautious combination and comparison of them, is the drudgery to which man is subjected by his Maker, if he wishes to attain sure knowledge. I am myself an empiric in natural philosophy, suffering my faith to go no further than my facts. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.
Follow truth as the only safe guide, and eschew error, which bewilders us in one false consequence after another, in endless succession. He who knows nothing is nearer the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing than to believe what is wrong. No vice is so mean as the want of truth and at the same time so useless. Truth is the first object.
Your reason is now mature enough to examine the object of religion. In the first place, divest yourself of all bias in favor of novelty and singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, and the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand, shake off all the fears and servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who, being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone.
The most effectual means of preventing the perversion of power into tyranny are to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people. It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. Light and liberty go together. I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man. Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.
Truth advances, and error recedes step by step only; and to do our fellow-men the most good in our power, we must lead where we can, follow where we cannot, and still go with them; watching always the favorable moment for helping them to another step. Truth will do well enough if left to shift for herself. She seldom has received much aid from the power of great men to whom she is rarely known and seldom welcome. She has no need of force to procure entrance into the minds of men.
Truth is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them. Truth and reason are eternal. They have prevailed. And they will eternally prevail.
Note: This essay, taken from Light and Liberty: Reflection on the Pursuit of Happiness, edited from the collected writings of Thomas Jefferson by Eric Petersen, strikes at the core of our contemporary national pastimes of intellectual dysfunction and spiritual retardation. With regard to the former, we happily accept nonsense as fact; with regard to the latter, we deny our own hearts to follow doctrine. Light and Liberty, a 154-page, softcover book, is a truly inspiring collection of essays from our most eloquent and thoughtful Founder. It is available for $11.95 at www.modernlibrary.com.
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